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Total number of comments: 22 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:48)


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  • Just Deserts: Iraqis get Iraq's Oil, not Bush/Cheney (Muttitt)
    • The title of this blog post is misleading. It seems Iraqis haven't gotten Iraqi oil. They've just gotten an Iraqi government to approve of Big Oil, awarding contracts to foreign energy companies themselves. I guess this is a victory for anti-imperialism (or anti-Americanism), since the oil law wasn't passed under US pressure. But it doesn't seem like anything to celebrate.

  • States with Highest Religiosity most Opposed to Obamacare
    • If I had relied on sociologists to define what being religious is, I never would've become religious. Religion is about helping people, but it's not always those who are in an organized religion, or who call themselves Christians, who are truly religious. It is baffling to me as well that Christians, usually Protestant evangelicals, are not more supportive of the social gospel. But this is human nature, not religion at work. Jesus said it was almost impossible to have riches and enter the kingdom of heaven. He also said "distribute unto the poor." As for secular people, like Mr. Juan Cole (I'm assuming he's basically secular), it's amusing to me when they try to explain what religion is or what it means, since they have no religious experience themselves. It's like the deaf trying to tell others about music.

  • Omar Khayyam (143) "Religious zealots are all jackasses"
  • Thousands Demonstrate in Alexandria Against Shafiq as Egypt Faces Election Turmoil
    • Bill, you're assuming we have a democracy in the United States. "That Egyptians have a choice between a Muslim Brotherhood leader (Muhammad Mursi) and Hosni Mubarak’s last vice president (Ahmad Shafiq) is a travesty," Juan Cole writes. We in America have a choice between a Republican investment banker who wants to cut spending, i.e., dismantle social programs, and who stated he's not worried about the poor (Mitt Romney) - and on the other side a president who gives lofty speeches while being the servant behind the scenes for Wall Street (Barack Obama). Is that not also a travesty? I doubt Juan Cole will accept this comment of mine on his blog. He seems to be unwilling to print anything critical of Obama (not that anyone's reading these comments anyway). But Mr. Cole, why be a liberal apologist for the Obama administration? Where is the change we can believe in? You're still going to vote for that guy? What has he done? What good has he done? I realize the alternative to the Democrats is a little worse, but don't try to say we have a real choice in America, that we have a real democracy here. We don't.

  • The Syrian Army's outlaw Executions (Serle)
    • "My question to all the great how to erect structures and conditions to at least make Kosovo and Sabra-Shatila and the bleeding neighborhoods of Homs less likely in the future."

      Have you ever thought that love might be the answer to your question? That would be the foundation for any structures.

      "Yes, stop the slaughter, and stop it now, but just exactly how does “the world community,” that oxymoronical reification, go about it? When so many of us and our leaders are “invested” in more of the same?"

      Good question, but it's the same as the first. The US and NATO (which are basically one and the same) aren't going to intervene in Syria like they did in Libya because Syria isn't an oil producer like Libya was. I'm sure Juan Cole will say no, that's not why there was a humanitarian intervention in Libya, it was because Obama and the rest just cared so much about civilians in Libya being massacred and they had to stop it. Yeah? So why aren't they stopping it in Syria? Why is a military intervention not even being considered in Syria? According to Obama, the man who orders drone strikes and kills with impunity in Afghanistan, it's too "complicated" in Syria.

      I disagree with Cole's leftist critics who accused him of siding with US imperialism in his support for the Libya intervention, but he should at least be consistent. If you're going to support a humanitarian intervention to save civilian lives because the civilians were being threatened with massacre, I would think you would be willing to point out the hypocrisy of the US in not intervening when civilians actually have been massacred. Granted, I don't think US airstrikes would be a pretty scenario. Who knows how many civilians were killed by US/NATO airstrikes in Libya. We know there were at least 10,000 people killed when the US bombed Iraq at the start of the Iraq War.

      You notice, even though the US is supporting the Syria opposition, Syrians aren't carrying American flags around. They know what the US is mostly all about, and it's not helping Syrians for moral reasons. If you're blinded by your support for President Obama, who some people still think can do no wrong, you're not going to say anything about the relationship between the Syrian tragedy and the United States' reaction to it, because you know it's hypocritical and you won't want be to known as a hypocrite yourself. The US and NATO were gung ho on Libya. Why? Libya has a lot of oil. The US and NATO say to Bashar al-Assad, "We're going to speak out publicly against you, but that's all we're going to do, since, to be honest, you don't have much oil. We don't have any national interest in you. So go ahead and kill your own people."

      It's a shame when John McCain, the ardent militarist, shows more of a sense of right and wrong than the calculating Democrats, starting with Obama, who care only about winning an election, not wanting to get involved in Syria because it could hurt the election campaign with another Middle East quagmire. But full speed ahead on Afghanistan! (we Democrats have to look tough, remember).

      What is the answer? Love, for everyone. Politicians and other "great thinkers" sometimes forget this.

  • Syrian Civil War Kills 160, Spills over onto Lebanon, Turkey; Will US Intervene?
    • Mr. Cole, what do you think would happen if the US or NATO intervened militarily in Syria, with airstrikes, for example? Would you support it like you did for Libya?

  • Obama warns Israel against Iran Strike, Cancels Joint Military Exercises
    • That's a good point you make, Juan, about the upcoming election. Obama and his advisors certainly care more about a second term than about what Israel wants. At the same time, Democratic presidents do want to look strong on national defense, and of course the support for basically whatever Israel does is always a given in American politics.

      I don't think too many Americans themselves realize the danger and the possibly catastrophic consequences that could result from a war with Iran. Hopefully our government understands the consequences, particularly to the economy. Oil prices would soar, the stock market could end up crashing. There could be terrorism in American cities. I don't think the Obama administration is going to think that by getting into a war, the country will rally around the flag and send him into a second term based on a patriotic surge, yet you never know what the Machiavellian minds in Washington are thinking. The scary thing is the level of tension in the Persian Gulf, over the Strait of Hormuz, as well as the possibility of Israel bombing the nuclear sites without getting a green light from the US. We would then be involved whether we liked it or not.

      World War Three could be coming, and that's not an exaggeration. America, through the sanctions, is already at war with Iran. It's a tinder box right now. Any flare up could set off an apocalyptic conflagration. Let's just pray that reason prevails and there's not another war.

  • What the UN Can and Cannot do for Libya
    • Hi Professor Cole,

      I just read your lucid and informative book Engaging the Muslim World. The chapter on the Iraq War was superb. Every American should read that, if they're interested in knowing the truth. That war, as you pointed out, actually was designed by greedy, imperialist criminals in Washington who wanted to control Iraqi oil. You made sure to detail the human consequences, which are not entirely known, or appreciated, at least here in America. I won't forget the quote you included of the child from Iraq saying she wanted Americans to get out of her country because they kill people. We will have to atone at some point for the crimes committed in Iraq.

  • Top Ten Myths about the Libya War
    • I couldn't have said it better.

    • The United States government does not care about the lives of civilians, not just in other countries but in our own country. To think that the president and his administration all the sudden developed a conscience is absurd. States don't have consciences; they have strategic and economic interests. This US-led military intervention in Libya is not about humanitarianism; it's about oil, despite what you write, Professor Cole. If Libya didn't have oil, the US would've done what it did in another African country, Rwanda. It would've done nothing. In Rwanda, close to a million people were killed. But did the US intervene? No. Why? Because that country meant nothing to the US, strategically or economically, and so the people also meant nothing.

      President Obama can cite Christian theologians all he wants. The man is a hypocrite, saying he's worried about civilians being slaughtered in Libya while slaughtering scores of civilians himself in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Looking at history, from Vietnam to Iraq, it is absolutely absurd to think that the US government cares a whit about protecting civilians. Our government cares about one thing only: power and wealth.

  • Rick Perry and the Hucksterism of the Rich
    • I didn't pay much attention to it, but what I heard was that the prayer gathering was meant to try to get America back on track, get the economy going again. That was part of what they were praying for, I guess. I don't have a problem with that. However, I knew enough about Rick Perry's politics to know that it wasn't truly religious, in the sense that you point out, Prof. Cole, namely, related to the actual teachings of Jesus. But who expects any politician, especially a Republican, to practice the social gospel? That just does not happen. If it did, if there was a leader who was actually preaching social justice and love for the least among us, we might begin to see some real change in this country. As it is, we get Christians like George W. Bush and his ilk, who think God tells them to invade other countries that didn't attack us. Obama, also a Christian, uses his Nobel Peace Prize speech to justify war. As for economic policies, it's tax cuts for the wealthy and slashing benefits, the little that people have.

      I don't know if I agree with the bogeyman of Iran in this post. I understand it's not what most Americans would want, an Iran-style government or society. But I wouldn't compare these evangelicals to the Khomeini movement that overthrew a brutal dictator. I realize Iran has problems, and there's a violent history there, but I don't think it's right to use Iran as a comparison to right-wing American Christians. From what I know, I think the spirituality of Iranians was sincere and, to me, at least worthy of respect. Khomeini, whether he followed through with it or not, spoke of the need to help the downtrodden. As you point out, these Republican evangelicals are just a fraud; they care for the rich only and are without any compassion for the poor. That, of course, is the antithesis of what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ.

  • 10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes
    • "The aggregate of changes in US law and practice in favor of corporatocracy and the national security state is so extensive and powerful that our constitution has been overwhelmed."

      So maybe we need a new constitution.

    • “It is probably too late for us.”

      Too late? You mean we can’t protest in America like they’re doing in the Arab countries? I don’t think it’s too late. We can make changes. I don’t think they’ll come about through the electoral process, though. If our democracy is broken, then we should try to fix it. It says in the Declaration of Independence:

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

      — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

      It’s not the corporations that deserve life. It’s us. It’s not the defense industry that deserves liberty. It’s us. It’s not the banks and their political backers that deserve happiness. It’s us, “all men (and women and children).” So why is to too late for us, Professor Cole? Well, you said "probably" too late. Our safety and happiness are being ignored by, as you relate in your post, the top one percent, the military-industrial complex, the whole structure of our political representation. People are unemployed, embittered with government. There is no reason why we can’t rise up and demand real change. If we want a more just society, it’s our duty. The problem is how to organize and on what basis. But it can be done. It’s not too late.

  • Palin Borrows 'Blood Libel' from Israeli Far Right
    • Also, even if you don't accept my moral argument, you can at least agree that these wars are bankrupting the country.

    • Yes, the truth can be distasteful to those who like to live a lie.

    • I was actually talking about the Afghan and Pakistani people who died from our military, not the soldiers who volunteer to go over there and kill. And there have been protests. There was just one recently at the White House. I don't think Mrs. Obama was paying attention, though.

    • As much as you may dislike Palin and her ideas, she's not setting any policies. Look at what Obama said in his speech in Arizona. These are the most hypocritical words I've ever seen. He said that what matters in the end is "how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better." So I suppose your Afghan war has made the lives of the people there better. Or maybe they're not really people since they're not American people. Obama wiped his eye during his speech. But does he have any tears for the people whose lives his government has destroyed? No.

      He cited the Book of Job, saying "terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding ... and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath. For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind."

      Who's the more violent man? The one who kills six people, or the one who kills six hundred thousand people? That's the body count for Iraq. Of course, Mr. Obama didn't start that war and he brought some troops home, but he also was never morally against it, and he continues the war in Afghanistan, one which even conservatives like Ann Coulter are capable of saying it's wrong to be there.

      The most appalling moment in Obama's speech was when he used the death of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old victim of the random shooting, to speak about his "hopes and dreams" for the country. "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want America to be as good as she imagined it." She was a fun loving little child who loved animals. I wonder if she would've liked to have seen bombs dropped on innocent families in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I'm guessing that would've made her cry. Yet the cheers for the president at the memorial/pep rally in Arizona were all that was heard. What a country.

  • Blair, Hitchens Debate Religion
    • I don't think these kinds of debates are useful. Is religion a force for good? It depends on the person. If you don't believe in God, you have no experience with religion, so in reality you have no chance of saying it's a force for good. That would be Hitchens. He's simply ignorant, despite how intellectually gifted he is. He doesn't know what he's talking about. Maybe he'll find out soon. As for Blair, I wouldn't want to listen to him talk about faith. It's like George W. Bush. These politicians who launch unjust wars and then have no regrets shouldn't even mention their belief in God. They give it a bad name. Thanks for your summary here, Professor Cole.

  • Obama hands Iraq to Iraqis, Sort of;
    al-Maliki Declares Independence
    • How many children did the United States kill in Iraq? Our president speaks about the terrible toll on our soldiers. Then he mentions offhand the "resilience" of Iraqis, making sure to let them know we're not done with them yet. We've made a commitment, and "make no mistake," we're going to stick to it. In other words, we can't let a government form there that's unfriendly to our strategic interests. He tells us our combat mission is over. We went to war against a country that hadn't even threatened to attack us, all so we could control their energy resources. We need oil to make the great ecomony run. That's America's commitment. That's why so many people died, were wounded, tortured, displaced, sent into despair. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad those troops are coming home. But they never should have been there in the first place! It's insane. Our government murders civilians with impunity and sends our young men off to die for a war that means nothing except to those who profit from it, the rich, the powerful, the lying, wretched souls who sin against everything that's holy, who kill children. They don't care, either. They have no compassion. All they care about is their money, their war profiteering, their filthy lies. May God make them pay for their sins, for shedding innocent blood.

  • Glenn Beck's 'I have a Dream Speech'
    • I don't watch Glenn Beck's show, so I was mistaken about one thing. I read that he did say, apparently, on his show that we should reduce military spending and have a non-interventionist foreign policy. Except when it comes to Iran, I'm guessing.

    • Our society is right now founded on "unregulated capitalism." We don't have to worry about returning to it but rather turning away from it. That's what Glenn Beck is opposed to. What he represents is the fear that our government might actually take care of people. He said in a speech to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) back in February: "What we don’t have a right to is: health care, housing, or handouts. We don’t have those rights." That's actually true, but he aims to keep it that way. The lie is that he rails against the government being too big, yet says nothing about the billions wasted on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His view is that "the only job of the United States government is to save us from bad guys." A government that tries to help its own citizens instead of going to other countries and killing their citizens is a threat to our individual rights. This is an insane message, but it's dressed up in patriotism and uses television as well as religion to attract people. Ultimately, though, it's a fraud. I think most normal people, no matter how confused they are, realize this.

    • If Beck actually cared about being a Christian, or bringing God back to America, he would've said: "Please, I know we're Americans, but right now we need to help our brothers and sisters who are suffering in Pakistan - even though they're Muslims." But maybe that sounds like more satire, putting those words in his mouth. It's hard to understand how anyone can take his message seriously.

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